The aim of this prospective study was to determine the effectiveness of caries preventive measures started during pregnancy on the caries experience of first-time mothers and their infants. Eighty-one pregnant women with low social background were selected on the basis of the presence of active carious lesions and were randomly divided into control (38) and experimental (43) groups. The initial dental status (DMFS and white spot lesions) was established through clinical examination. The prophylactic measures were repeated during pregnancy and 6 and 12 months after delivery. Both groups received primary care intervention. They were instructed in relation to the etiologic factors of dental caries and received oral hygiene kits. Oral hygiene instructions were reinforced through interactive brushing. The experimental group also received antimicrobial treatment (topical application of NaF and iodine solution immediately after prophylaxis and 3 and 5 days later) and restorative care using glass ionomer cement. By the time the children were 2 years of age, 33.3% of the infants in the control group and 14.7% in the experimental group had caries activity. A significant difference in caries prevalence was observed between children with and without visible dental plaque. The mean number of tooth surfaces with carious lesions (including areas of demineralization) was higher among the children in the control group compared to the experimental group (6.3 x 3.2), however, with no statistical significance. Maternal caries increase was a significant factor influencing the caries experience of the children. These data support the evidence of an association between caries prevalence in young children and clinical (dental plaque) and maternal factors.